On The Radar
Aircraft engine makers like Rolls-Royce know full well they are in the front lines in responding to growing pressure to achieve net-zero carbon levels in aviation. Acknowledging that they are widely seen as part of aviation’s environmental impact problem, they are being increasingly more visible in signaling their intent to be part of the solution.
Rolls-Royce has just published a manifesto to explain how it will contribute to what it characterizes as a net-zero economy. The document spells out an ambitious plan not only for the UK-based group to deliver greener propulsion systems for aircraft through 2030 but also for its entire business operation to be compatible with net-zero goals by 2050.
Lately, Rolls-Royce has moved into the advanced air mobility sector through partnerships to provide the electric propulsion systems for UK Vertical Aerospace’s four-passenger VA-1X eVTOL aircraft and also for the new P-Volt all-electric commuter aircraft being developed by Italy’s Tecnam with Norwegian airline Wideroe. The company is also stepping up work on a new hybrid-electric powerplant for a variety of prospective applications.
However, Rolls-Royce’s net-zero carbon objectives also cover an existing customer base across 150 countries that includes more than 400 airlines and leasing groups, as well as 160 armed forces and more than 5,000 industrial power and nuclear customers. In the new declaration of intent, the company commits to further advances with its turbofan airliner engines, mainly through the UltraFan successor to its Trent XWB, which it says will be 25 percent more fuel-efficient than earlier Trent engines.
By 2023, Rolls-Royce says, all in-production civil aero engines will be proven to be fully compatible with 100 percent sustainable aviation fuels. Meanwhile, the public company has committed to boosting its investment in lower carbon and net-zero technologies to 75 percent of its overall research and development budget by 2025.
Rolls-Royce is also looking to get its own house in order, with plans to eliminate carbon emissions from its facilities by 2030. This plan will start at its Bristol site in southwest England, which is set to achieve net-zero carbon status in 2022.